NH House

Sara Plourde / NHPR

Every two years New Hampshire lawmakers are given the task of producing a budget for the state.  The aim is to craft one that best serves Granite State residents, spends within the state’s means as well as adheres to the party lines of those in the majority.

This session with a Democratic Governor and Republican controlled House and Senate – the budget process will fluctuate quite a bit before it is signed into law by June 30th.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The New Hampshire house has passed an $11.2 billion state budget.

The proposal includes no tax and fee increases and lifts state spending by about $400 million, some $300 million dollars less than the plan proposed by Governor Maggie Hassan.

“This was an effort to look under every cushion of the sofa to look for loose change.”

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The New Hampshire House of Representatives is asking the state Supreme Court to weigh in on a bill requiring people registering to vote — including out-of-state students or military personnel — to also register their cars and obtain drivers' licenses in New Hampshire.

The request for an advisory opinion was made in writing Wednesday and made public by the court Thursday.

A New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union lawyer says including the drivers' license requirement in establishing a voter's eligibility amounts to a poll tax that forces people to pay the state to vote.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

 On Wednesday the New Hampshire House will vote on whether schools should be able to compel students to disclose their social media activity.

The bill bans schools from demanding access to a student’s user name and password or requiring students to “friend” school officials on Facebook.

It would apply to private and public schools, K through colleges and universities. Prime Sponsor, Merrimack Rep Katherine Rogers says schools that demand access to a student’s social media accounts without a search warrant are denying that student the civil right to privacy.

School districts with growing populations could benefit from two pieces of legislation that got preliminary approval today from the New Hampshire House. 

The House voted this morning to move forward a bill that would lift a cap on how much state aid growing school districts can receive, as well as a measure to provide more money for school construction projects. The House Education Committee recommended passage of both. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

A legislative committee overseeing implementation of the Affordable Care Act in New Hampshire may be taking on new duties.

State Sen. Jeb Bradley, a Republican from Wolfeboro, is sponsoring a bill to increase the powers of the joint health care reform oversight committee to include the state's newly-expanded Medicaid program. The bill would require the committee to provide oversight, policy direction and recommendations for legislation.

Tracy Lee Carroll, NHPR

House lawmakers are considering a measure that aims to create guidelines for election officials to judge a voters domicile. And the secretary of state’s office supports the bill.

The fight over what should constitute domicile for voting purposes has been going on for years in New Hampshire, and it’s often focused status of college students.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

New Hampshire is one of only two states where the governor’s term is only two years, Vermont being the other.

In most other states, governors serve four-year terms.

Lawmakers will once again debate this session whether to amend the state constitution and make the governor a four-year term.

Such efforts have failed in the legislature in the past.

Democratic Rep. Mario Ratzki of East Andover is the bill’s prime sponsor.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The New Hampshire House rejected an effort by backers of former Republican Speaker Bill O'Brien to install him as House majority leader. But O’Brien says he’s still moving forward with plans to form his own leadership team.

Backers of O’Brien knew they faced long odds in trying to get a House majority to reject the course it set just last month when members chose Shawn Jasper as speaker,  but that didn’t stop them.

Steve Stepanek of Amherst told colleagues the very future of the house depended on ensuring that caucuses -not any speaker - get final say on who should lead.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Legislators can again carry concealed weapons on the floor of the N.H. House and in the legislative office building after the Republicans-led house voted to undo a prohibition on the practice put in place two years ago by Democrats.

The 228-149 vote came following a debate where Democrats like Len DiSesa, former deputy police chief in Portsmouth, argued allowing guns in the chamber risks public safety.

“The only people who should be armed in the House of Representatives are trained police officers.”

J. Stephen Conn via Flickr CC

New Hampshire House Speaker Shawn Jasper continues to add to his leadership team.

On Tuesday, Jasper named Republican Steve Schmidt of Wolfeboro as Deputy Majority Leader.

Schmidt is entering his third term in the House and recently retired from as an executive with Verizon.

Jasper has already named Jack Flanagan of Brookline as Majority Leader.

Members of the House will convene for their first session on January 7.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Concealed weapons would again be allowed in and around the N.H. house chamber under a policy endorsed Thursday by the House rules committee.

Goffstown republican John Burt sponsored the change, which would restore polices in effect at the N.H. House from 2011 to 2013.

"When you have a gun free zone it’s a false sense of security. It really is, you know some people might feel good and say we are safe in there. We are really not."

josh rogers/nhpr

Republicans loyal to former House Speaker Bill O’Brien say they won't recognize the Majority Leader named by House Speak Shawn Jasper.

About 100 House Republicans met behind closed doors to discuss how to make Bill O’Brien the official leader of the Republican caucus.

According to Bill O’Brien the goal is to ensure the House hews to a conservative agenda.

Under state GOP rules, O’Brien  is the Republican leader because he was the Republican Caucus's nominee for Speaker.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Newly elected New Hampshire House Speaker Shawn Jasper is planning to announce committee chairs for the upcoming legislative session.

Jasper, a Republican who won the speakership largely with support from Democrats, has promised to appoint only Republicans to serve as chairs and vice chairs. He will announce his appointments Thursday. The House has 21 committees, ranging from criminal justice and public safety to health, human services and elderly affairs.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

It took multiple votes and more than 7 hours, but the NH House did choose a new speaker Wednesday – Hudson Republican Shawn Jasper.

Support from Democrats lifted Jasper to an upset win over former Speaker Bill O’Brien, who Republicans nominated to lead the House last month.  

The first sign that yesterday might not end well for Bill O’Brien, came early, when Republicans tried to alter the proposed rules for electing a Speaker.

NHPR Staff

School's now in session for New Hampshire's newly elected state representatives, who are spending two days touring the State House and learning the ropes of legislative procedure.

Todd Bookman / NHPR

The first public meeting between House and Senate negotiators working to fix the state’s Medicaid enhancement tax lasted all of 20 minutes, but parties are optimistic a deal can be struck.

Representative Cindy Rosenwald, a Nashua Democrat, used the hearing to reiterate the House’s position that despite court rulings declaring the tax unlawful, the New Hampshire Supreme Court will see otherwise.

“We continue to believe that our Medicaid enhancement tax is constitutional,” Rosenwald told colleagues. She says it adheres to both federal and state law.

Statehouse
Amanda Loder / NHPR

New Hampshire's House has twice passed legislation to repeal the death penalty with the governor's blessing, but the second attempt has cost them a key supporter in the Senate.   Republican Sen. Bob Odell, who voted for repeal, said Friday that he won't vote to take up the issue again.  The first bill stalled in the Senate on a 12-12 vote last month, but supporters may have overplayed their hand by sending a second bill to the Senate for a vote Thursday. The Senate has the option of passing the amended bill, killing it or asking the House to compromise.

A Spotless Gas Pump
Orin Zebest / Flickr Creative Commons

The House highways and tax committees are holding a joint hearing next week on a proposal to raise the tax on gas and diesel by 4 cents.  The hearing will be held Tuesday.   The Senate-passed bill would provide more money over the next two years for highway improvements, then take some of the tax proceeds to pay off $200 million in borrowing toward completion of the I-93 project. Once the debt is paid off in roughly 20 years, the tax hike would expire. The bill would also eliminate the Exit 12 ramp toll booths in Merrimack.

N.H. House Votes To Expand Medicaid

Mar 25, 2014
Daniel S. Hurd via Flickr CC

The New Hampshire House has voted 202-132 to expand Medicaid to cover an estimated 50,000 low-income adults under the Affordable Care Act.  

The move comes after more than a year of debate, and while the vote in the Democratically-controlled chamber wasn’t a surprise, Republicans weren’t exactly ready to concede the point.

They put forward nine amendments on issues ranging from delaying the start date to capping enrollees, all of which failed.

Tom Vagliery via Flickr CC

The bill was endorsed by its house committee as a way to protect the minors from skin damage that could contribute to cancer, but on the house floor it provoked a heated debate over parental rights and the proper role of government.  Steve Vaillancourt is a Republican from Manchester.

"A young women if this bill passes can get an abortion, but not a tan, an abortion would be legal but a tan would not, think of it."

Moments later the House voted 175-154 to both kill the bill and bar the issue from coming up again this year.

College students who entered the U.S. illegally could get in-state tuition at University of New Hampshire System schools if they met certain requirements.

The House votes Wednesday on a bill that would require the students to be a graduate of a high school in the state or to have gotten a New Hampshire high school equivalency certificate to be eligible for the in-state rate.

They would have to have had to attend a state high school for three years before graduating or receiving an equivalency certificate and have met all the other criteria for in-state rates.

Ryan Lessard / NHPR

After hours of debate and despite a promised veto from Governor Maggie Hassan, the New Hampshire House voted in favor of a bill to legalize marijuana 170 to 162 Wednesday night.


The House not only rejected allowing police to use license plate scanners, it then took the extra step of voting 214-135 to forbid that the issue be revisited in any form this year.

While supporters argued that plates information would be retained in the scanners for just 3 minutes, and might help solve crimes, critics like Manchester Democrat Joel Winters argued they erode privacy and embolden police to improperly conduct surveillance on the innocent.

This week, the legislature returns and hears new bills. Up before the Senate judiciary committee are a proposal to establish domestic violence as a separate crime and one requiring certain persons with mental illness to be barred from owning guns and placed on a federal registry. On Thursday, the House holds its first hearing on a bill to repeal the death penalty.

Minimum Wage Debate To Return To N.H. State House

Jan 7, 2014

The debate over the minimum wage will return to the state house this session.  A proposal to reestablish a state minimum wage failed last year in the Republican-controlled state Senate.  This session, Democrats hope to set a state minimum wage at $8.25 an hour

lindalu23 / Flickr Creative Commons

We’re sitting down with a panel of leading lawmakers to talk about their top issues for 2014.  These will include some repeats from last year such as Medicaid expansion, a gas tax increase, and casino gambling.  Other major debates will include guns and mental health, as well as cell phone use while driving.

GUESTS:

House and Senate committees are holding public hearings and work sessions on rival plans to expand Medicaid in New Hampshire this week.   The House holds its public hearing Tuesday morning while the Senate's hearing on its plan is that afternoon. The committees working on the bills will vote on a recommendation Thursday, but whatever they decide may be superseded by any compromise negotiated behind closed doors by legislative leaders and Gov. Maggie Hassan.   The House and Senate plans are essentially the same for the first year, but take different approaches after that.